Ethical Public Administration of Abu Ghraib Prison

Topic: Public Administration
Words: 389 Pages: 1

After defeating Saddam Hussein’s control, the U.S. military gained control of the Abu Ghraib prison in April 2003. The prison was run under the leadership of Brigadier General Janis Karpinski. Abu Ghraib prison contained prisoners the U.S. military arrested during their military operations, including terrorism suspects. In April 2004, there were media leaks on prisoners’ psychological and physical violations, including images of sexual abuse such as rape, murder, and torture against Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prisoners. The scandal emerged to the public and was referred to as the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal. The acts were perpetrated by U.S. army personnel and other secret agencies.

The scandal can be analyzed from an ethical dilemma viewpoint to determine what ethics were violated, if any. Ethical realism can particularly help analyze the ethical issues at Abu Ghraib. Ethical realism recognizes the existence of less of two evils principle. Realism elucidates the sense of going for the least evil between two evils (Elkatawneh, 2014). The theory of ethical realism avows that where there’s a conflict and a lack of ability to evade an ethical dilemma, within two detrimental choices, select the least harmful of the two.

With this theory in mind, the unethical acts done at Abu Ghraib by the United States military is a lesser choice of two evils, thus a wrong they admit but whose aim is to avoid larger harm. The armed resistance by Iraq to the U.S. military operations could have endangered U.S. solder’s lives and undermined their military goal. Thus, the torture would help the U.S. military get the much-needed and necessary information that would help them overcome Iraq’s resistance.

In conclusion, ethics plays a huge part in administrative evil. It is characteristic that ordinary people, in their administrative roles and normal professions, engage in evil acts without even being privy to the fact that they are doing wrong (Elkatawneh, 2014). Under moral inversion conditions and even by application of philosophical and ethical theories such as ethical realism and utilitarianism, persons may even construe their evil acts as good. To reconcile personal and professional ethics, one must recognize that the focus should be on the assigned responsibilities and duties. Thus, to avoid a clash of personal and professional ethics focus should be on duties and responsibilities rather than personal opinion also, one should always involve others in situations.


Elkatawneh, H. (2014). Abu Ghraib scandal and the ethical dilemma. SSRN. Web.

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Public Administration in the US
Public Budget and Administration for Children and Families